Those soccer celebrity-watchers who hoped to see British icon David Beckham play at Toyota Park on Sunday will be disappointed.
Major League Soccers Disciplinary Committee handed Beckham a one-game suspension on Thursday, meaning he will not be in the Los Angeles Galaxy lineup for its meeting with the Fire.
Beckham drew his suspension for an incident in the 93rd minute of a 4-3 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes last Saturday at Stanford Stadium. The Galaxy, which seemed to be recovering from a slow start to this season after winning the MLS Cup in 2011, blew two-goal leads twice against the Quakes, who own the circuits best record.
The match was winding down when San Jose midfielder Sam Cronin was writhing in the San Jose penalty box. Beckham, on the sidelines for a throw-in, kicked one ball over the fallen player, then fired another one that hit Cronin. That precipitated a confrontation between players from both squads.
Beckham was assessed a yellow card immediately, and that kept him out of Los Angeles 2-1 home loss to the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday. He missed that match the Galaxys first-ever loss to the Union because of yellow card point accumulations. Then the disciplinary committee added to Beckhams punishment on Thursday, fining him an undisclosed sum in addition to suspending him from the Fire match.
Prior to the San Jose match the Galaxy had won three straight to improve its record to 6-8-2. Now Los Angeles (6-10-2) sits in sixth place in the nine-team Western Division.
In his six seasons in MLS Beckham, former England captain who had a legendary career at Manchester United of the English Premier League, performed at Toyota Park only twice. He came on in the 58th minute of a 1-0 Fire win on Oct. 21, 2007 and played all 90 minutes of a 3-1 Fire win on Sept. 25, 2008.
Though the Fire won both times Beckham played, the clubs record against Los Angeles lifetime is a losing one (15-17-4). In Toyota Park meetings, the Fire owns a 3-2-1 edge, but the Galaxy won both of last years meetings. One was by a 2-1 score in Bridgeview on April 17.
This season the Fire is 5-1-2 in its eight home games, the best start through that number of games since the team moved into Toyota Park in 2006. The only better eight-game start at home for the Fire came in the inaugural 1998 season when the club was 6-2-0 en route to its improbable sweep on the MLS and U.S. Open Cups.
The Fire is assured its biggest home crowd of the season for Sundays 2 p.m. match in large part because of Beckhams expected appearance. Tickets are still on sale, but the game was a near-sellout before MLS suspended Beckham.
The Galaxy does not come to Bridgeview again this campaign. Sundays match is the only meeting of the clubs this season.